By sticking to its creative guns, and always seeking innovative solutions, Dynamo has survived and even thrived during the economic tumults of the last decade
Among Old Montreal’s cobbled streets and 17th-century brick heritage buildings, Dynamo strives to inject character and innovation into all its work. The studio has won many awards for traditional design, including from Applied Arts, which has included it in its awards annuals eight times in the past 10 years. But don’t let that fool you, Dynamo is first and foremost a digital agency.
The company was founded in 2001 by interactive director Alex Nemeroff and the company’s tech director Brian Mahoney. After adding creative director Bob Beck to the mix, Dynamo really started to gel and take off. What started as a modest side business catapulted into a successful medium-sized communications design studio. It now boasts a client list that ranges from big names, like ALDO and Smart Set, to small indie companies, like The Yellow Bird Project.
Located in the heart of Vieux-Montréal, Dynamo is flooded with natural light from tall arch windows. The elegant space combines elaborate white Victorian ceiling mouldings and traditional architecture with modern accent colours and furniture.
A few years ago, two young principals of the Yellow Bird Project came to Dynamo seeking help for their small business. The YBP collaborates with independent artists and musicians to design T-shirts and other promotional materials. Sold online, the products yield profits that are donated to the band’s charity of choice. The project has taken off, with well-known indie bands on board, such as Metric, Devendra Banhart, Bon Iver, K-Os and Wolfmother. Dynamo had a hand in everything, from branding and print materials to the new YBP e-commerce website, winning design awards along the way.
These indie projects, as well as self-initiated and charity projects, allow Dynamo’s team to flex their creative muscles. For example, in March, they released a hand-drawn T-shirt design that has raised to date $2,700 for the Japanese Red Cross. “We’ve been getting a positive response for these kinds of self-initiated projects, winning awards for our self-promotional wine bottle design, posters, etc.” Alex Nemeroff says.
Such creative successes have also attracted bigger clients. Dynamo just recently finished a microsite for a summer campaign for ALDO, the Montreal-based shoe and fashion retailer, featuring neon interactive summer graphics. In September, the studio is also helping ALDO to launch the Mr. B’s Gentlemen’s Boutique. “The focus of the collection, and the site, is craftsmanship, detail, premium materials – all cast to appeal to the more discerning, refined, modern-day man,” explains Nemeroff.
In business for 10 years, Dynamo has managed to thrive during the decade’s ups and downs by sticking fast to its mandate: imbuing each project with creativity, strategic insight and innovation. “When the markets were bad, many companies pulled money from traditional marketing and invested it online,” says Nemeroff. “We capitalized on that, and businesses ended up coming to us because one of our core concepts is innovation. We stayed true to that, even during that time, and it set us apart.”